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The Learning Region: Impact of Social Capital and Weak Ties on Innovation

[journal article]

Hauser, Christoph; Tappeiner, Gottfried; Walde, Janette

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Abstract Theories that emphasise the role of proximity and tacit knowledge in innovation processes highlight the importance of social interaction and networking for the diffusion of knowledge. A concept that captures the impact of human relations on economic activity is Social Capital. Using factorial analysis with data from the European Values Study we demonstrate empirically the multi-dimensionality of Social Capital. The obtained independent dimensions serve as inputs in a knowledge production function estimated for a sample of European regions. One of our major results is that the impact of Social Capital on regional innovation processes is significant and comparable to the importance of Human Capital. However, not all dimensions of Social Capital exhibit the same explanatory power. The dimension “Associational Activity” represents the strongest driving force for patenting activity. Hence, empirical evidence for the significance of weak ties in innovative processes is given.
Classification Sociology of Science, Sociology of Technology, Research on Science and Technology; Economic and Social Geography; Area Development Planning, Regional Research
Free Keywords social capital, economic geography, knowledge spillovers, innovation
Document language English
Publication Year 2007
Page/Pages p. 75-88
Journal Regional Studies, 41 (2007) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)